The 7 Keys to ACL Reconstruction

A ruptured or torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament can be one of the most devastating injuries an athlete will ever face.  Athletes work relentlessly all year to get bigger, faster and stronger.  They spend hours upon hours developing sport-specific skills to improve their game play.  However, with one quick twist and a “pop” in the knee, that same athlete now faces months of recovery and rehabilitation.  To this athlete, every minute matters.  Every detail is vital.

In order to maximize your recovery and make certain that the rehabilitation process makes you Beyond Better, there are 7 keys to ACL Surgical reconstruction and recovery.

Did you follow a carefully and purposefully designed prehabilitation program?

As we noted in a previous blog post, studies show that a program of lower body stability and proprioceptive training prior to surgery can reduce recovery time by up to 8 weeks! Too many athletes rush into surgery with the idea that it will return them to sport faster and that may not be the case.  By having a specific protocol in place, based upon data collection and analysis, an athlete that receives a proper perioperative program will return to sport faster with less potential for injury or complications due to the surgical intervention.

Great Surgery

Of course after completing any perioperative program, it is imperative that you select a GREAT surgeon to perform the reconstruction.  There are three questions you should ask when selecting an orthopedic surgeon:

How many ACL surgeries have they performed on a yearly basis? You would not take your car into a muffler shop to have the brakes replaced.  At Sports Medicine South, Dr. Gary Levengood performs approximately 100 ACL reconstructions a year and the most sports medicine surgical procedures in the state of Georgia!

Do they perform innovative procedures and practices in the area of ACL Prevention and Treatment?  Treatment plans and surgical procedures have changes quite a bit in the last decade.  You want a practice committed to growing professionally and giving the best in care to their patients and community they serve.  This past year, Dr Levengood took his staff to Bledsoe bracing to see first hand how they fabricate knee braces and was able to provide high school football program in Gwinnett County 10 pairs of braces for their offensive lineman.  Even schools with other orthopedic service providers!  That’s Beyond Better!

Finally, does the surgeon teach others about the ACL?  You want a doctor respected enough to teach others how to properly care and treat a condition.  Dr Levengood, routinely holds continuing education clinics, is a lead sponsor of the National Strength and Conditioning Association at the Georgia State level as well as the Southeast Regional Conferences, and he even travels internationally to speak on his unique return to sport criteria following ACL Reconstruction.

Maximize Early stage Management:

In his blog post, Mike Reinold stated that it is vital that following the ACL Reconstruction that specific management occurs for pain control, establishing full extension range of motion (ROM) and progressing to flexion recovery, establishing and maintaining patella, producing quad control (usually with assistance of electrical stimulation to assist in muscular contraction), and finally developing proper independent ambulation.  At Sports Medicine South, not only does our Physical Therapy department have all the tools to provide this management, we have again gone Beyond Better by adding the anti-gravity Alter G Treadmill to promote earlier ambulation in a pain free environment that reduces problematic compensations in basic movement patterns.

Movement Based Strength

After early stage management, a proper rehab program focuses on efficient movement patterns.  This is not accomplished on machines or performing straight leg raises.  Do they teach the “Hip Hinge”, Squat variations, deadlift movements, and perform ankle mobility work?  This movement-based strength has been shown to greatly reduce the likelihood of re-injury.

Functional Strength Training

Functional Strength Training is accomplished by moving.  Is your rehab focused on establishing efficient movement patterns? Or are you limited to machines and isokinetics?

Proprioception (Trazer)

 Proprioception is a key component to any rehabilitation program.  Again, Sports Medicine South has advanced its program to utilize technology to enhance the recovery process. Proprioception is not gained through balance drills alone.  Studies have revealed there must be a cognitive component.  Therefore, SMS has added the TRAZER to complete the process and produce better results.

Functional Testing & Assessments (FMS & Functional Testing)

 Does your physician solely rely on numbers produced from an isokinetic machine test?  Or are basic movement patterns and ability to perform dynamic skills evaluated as well.  At SMS, we utilize the Functional Movement Screen and perform a variety of tests including jump, agility and power tests to ensure proper recovery and ability to return to the demands of sport!

If you are looking for more information on ACL Reconstruction, do not hesitate to call one of our professionals today!